Open Letter: OHA Trustees must say "no" to proposals rushed through the process based on friendships and nepotism
Aloha, August 26, 2019
This is Kamealoha Hanohano Smith, OHA beneficiary on Kauai. Early this morning I read an article in the Hawai’i Free Press titled, "With all eyes on Mauna Kea, OHA, KSBE insiders make a quick grab". I wanted to send a mahalo to Trustees, Kalei Akaka, Hulu Lindsey, & Kealii Akina for voting "no" on this measure. Based on what I read in the article, it appears that due diligence was not followed and I'm glad that the three trustees had the integrity and foresight to vote "no". These three trustees did exactly what the your responsibilities as a trustee require. The time has come for more trustees to say "no" to proposals that are being rushed through the process based on friendships and nepotism.
KSBE is a private trust and they can move forward with ideas and proposals in a very different manner. They are a non-profit business and they are accountable to their trustees and stakeholders. I support KSBE and trust they are looking out in the best interests of the trust they represent. I applaud them for their efforts to make agriculture a more viable and sustainable industry in Hawaii. Maybe, after everything has been properly vetted, OHA might become involved in this very important project or put an RFP out to solicit qualified applicants to apply for funds to invest in this agricultural venture.
On the other hand, OHA is not a private trust and Brenden Lee should know better than to just push through ideas using OHA resources without getting input from the other trustees and community representatives. With all the pilikia OHA has been through in the last few years and ongoing federal investigations, it is important that OHA adhere to protocols that are transparent. Moreover, I and probably a lot of other beneficiaries, are tired of seeing all the negative press in the media about OHA.
I read everything in Hawai’i Free Press with a grain of salt because I know they have a specific bias that does not always support Native Hawaiian causes. However, I get the gist of the article and believe that what was presented in this particular article is not helpful to OHA and the Hawaiian Community.
To be sure, this is not the first time that Brenden Lee has made critical mistakes in his understanding of his fiduciary duties as a trustee. I understand that he is new trustee, but he should be ready to be a full time Trustee from Day 1. He has had all this time study up on being a trustee and I believe he should either live up to those standards or consider resigning. I know it may sound harsh what I'm writing but I'm "over" the trustees and OHA making "million" dollar mistakes and expecting the community to not say anything.
I write this to each of you with the utmost respect and aloha. I am grateful to each of you for having the courage to be an OHA Trustees. I know it isn't an easy job! I pray for your health and continued success. Mahalo for allowing me to share manao. It is not my intent to offend anyone.
Me Ka Haahaa,
Related: With all eyes on Mauna Kea, OHA, KSBE insiders make a quick grab